Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) Survey

Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) is biennially published by the NGO Pratham, since 2005. The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) is a citizen-led household survey that provides nationally representative estimates of children’s schooling status and their foundational reading and arithmetic skills.

Read the key findings of the ASER report in this article, which will be helpful for the IAS Exam (Mains GS-I, II and Essay.)

ASER Report – Highlights

Full Form of ASER Annual Status of Education Report
Who publishes ASER Report NGO Pratham releases the Annual Status of Education Report, ASER in India

Official site for ASER Report – https://www.asercentre.org/

Published for the first time 2005
Type of Report
  • 2005-2016 – Annual Publication
  • Post-2016 – Biennial (Once in two years)
What does it survey?
  • Schooling status and the ability to do basic reading and arithmetic tasks for children in the 5-16 age group in rural India
  • ASER ‘Beyond Basics’ focused on the abilities, experiences, and aspirations of youth in the 14-18 age group
  • ASER ‘Early Years’ examined key early language, early numeracy, cognitive, and socioemotional indicators for children age 4-8 years
ASER 2020 Wave 1

ASER 2021

It covered 26 states and 4 UTs

It covered 25 states and 3 UTs

The topic, ‘ASER Report – Survey 2020’ is important for education-related topics in UPSC Mains GS 1.

Read similar topics from the links mentioned below:

  1. Evolution of India’s Education Policy
  2. India Report on Digital Education 2020
  3. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA)
  4. Samagra Shiksha Scheme
  5. Right to Education (RTE)

What is the Annual Status of Education Report or ASER?

The ASER report examines the schooling status and foundational learning of children across districts and states of rural India. It is a nationwide survey. Originally it was an annual publication but after 2016, it has become a biennial report.

Note: It uses the Census as the sampling frame. (Read about Census 2011 in the linked article.)

Few salient features of the ASER report include:

  1. Between 2005-2014; it surveyed children in the age group of 3-16 to:
    • To figure out the enrolment status in pre-school and school.
    • To assess their basic reading and arithmetic skills.
  2. It came up with ‘ASER Beyond Basics’ in 2017 that focused on the abilities, activities, awareness, and aspirations of youth in the 14 to 18 age group across 28 districts in the country.
  3. In 2019, ‘ASER Early Years’ surveyed young children between the ages of 4 and 18 and reported on their school enrolment status along with their abilities on the range of important development indicators.
  4. ASER 2020 is called the ASER 2020 Wave 1 Report that tried to reflect upon the learning losses, higher dropout rates, aggravating equity gaps in education etc. due to the COVID-19 crisis.

To comprehensively cover the ASER survey, complement it with reading about NITI Aayog’s School Quality Education Index (SEQI) that evaluates the performance of States and Union Territories in the school education sector.

Read more about the NITI Aayog at the linked article.

ASER Report 2021

ASER 2021 retains the phone survey format. More than 3000 volunteers across the country spoke to parents and teachers, aiming to understand how children in the age group of 5-16 have studied at home since the onset of the pandemic and the challenges that schools and households now face as schools reopen. ASER Report (Rural) 2021 was released on 17th November 2021. 

Overview of ASER 2021

  • The ASER 2021 survey was designed to be conducted at a time when schools had reopened in some states but not in others.
  • One part of the survey thus focused on questions similar to ASER 2020, allowing comparison of last year’s findings with data from this year for those children whose schools had not reopened.
  • A second part of the survey focused on children whose school had reopened, asking questions about children’s attendance and COVID prevention measures being followed by schools, among others.
  • ASER 2021 survey data to explore the following areas:
    • Children’s enrollment
    • Paid tuition classes
    • Smartphones
    • Learning support at home
    • Access to and availability of learning materials
    • Additional areas such as engagement with learning activities, and challenges of remote learning
    • School survey

Key Highlights of ASER 2021

  • School Enrollment Patterns
    • At an all-India level, there has been a clear shift from private to government schools. For children in
      the age group of 6-14, enrollment in private schools has decreased from 32.5% in 2018 to 24.4% in
      2021.
    • No change in children aged 6-14 not enrolled in school.
    • More older children in school than ever before.
    • There is a fair amount of variation in enrollment at the state level. The national increase in government school enrollment is driven by large northern states like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana and southern states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. In contrast, in many north-eastern states, government school enrollment has fallen during this period, and the proportion of children not enrolled in school has increased.
    • The enrollment of children in government schools has increased notably over the last two years. Government schools and teachers need to be equipped to deal with this influx.
  • Tuition
    • Big increase in children taking tuition.
    • Increase in tuition-taking highest among the less advantaged.
    • Fewer children whose schools have reopened are taking tuition.
    • The proportion of children attending private tuition classes has shot up since 2018 during an extended period of school closures and uncertainty. This might lead to a bigger learning gap between students who can and cannot afford paid tuition.
    • The incidence of tuition has increased across all states except Kerala.
  • Access to Smartphones
    • Smartphone ownership has almost doubled since 2018.
    • Household economic status makes a difference in smartphone availability.
    • Although over two-thirds of all enrolled children have a smartphone at home (67.6%), over a quarter of these have no access to it (26.1%).
  • Learning support at Home
    • Learning support at home has decreased over the last year.
    • School reopening is driving decreasing support.
  • Access to Learning Materials
    • Almost all children have textbooks.
    • Slight increase in additional materials received.

ASER Report 2020

On 28th October 2020, the 15th annual ASER was published. The ASER survey 2020 is the first-ever phone-based education survey. ASER 2020 surveys the provision of and access to distance education mechanisms in rural India during COVID-19 time when schools are closed.

Objectives of ASER Report 2020

The NGO, Pratham focuses to meet the following objectives through its nationwide survey on rural education:

  1. To evaluate the challenges of remote learning during school closures in a coronavirus pandemic-led environment.
  2. To report on the resources available to the parents to support the children’s learning at home.
  3. To report on the schools’ contribution in making learning materials and activities accessible to the families and children.
  4. To evaluate management and engagement of children with the learning materials being provided to them.

Read about the state of school education in India to have a better understanding about the issues and challenges in the school systems.

Key Findings of ASER 2020 Survey (Wave 1 Report)

  • The school enrolment percentage is mentioned below:
Age Group Percentage of Children Enrolled in Schools
6-14 (All)
  • 65.8% children enrolled in government schools.
  • 28.8 percent of children enrolled in private schools.
  • O.8 percent children enrolled with Madrasas and EGS.
7-16 (All)
  • 65.5 percent children enrolled in government school
  • 28.6 percent children enrolled in private school
  • 0.7 percent children enrolled in Madrasas and EGS.
7-10 (All)
  • 64.3 percent children enrolled in government school
  • 30.5 percent children enrolled in private school
  • 0.8 percent children enrolled in Madrasas and EGS.
7-10 (Boys)
  • 60.9 percent children enrolled in government school
  • 33.6 percent children enrolled in private school
  • 0.8 percent children enrolled in Madrasas and EGS.
7-10 (Girls)
  • 68.1 percent children enrolled in government school
  • 27 percent children enrolled in private school
  • 0.8 percent children enrolled in Madrasas and EGS.
11-14 (All)
  • 68 percent children enrolled in government school
  • 27.4 percent children enrolled in private school
  • 0.7 percent children enrolled in Madrasas and EGS.
11-14 (Boys)
  • 64.5 percent children enrolled in government school
  • 30.9 percent children enrolled in private school
  • 0.7 percent children enrolled in Madrasas and EGS.
11-14 (Girls)
  • 71.9 percent children enrolled in government school
  • 23.5 percent children enrolled in private school
  • 0.7 percent children enrolled in Madrasas and EGS.
15-16 (All)
  • 62.1 percent children enrolled in government school
  • 27.3 percent children enrolled in private school
  • 0.6 percent children enrolled in Madrasas and EGS.
15-16 (Boys)
  • 60.8 percent children enrolled in government school
  • 29.7 percent children enrolled in private school
  • 0.8 percent children enrolled in Madrasas and EGS.
15-16 (Girls)
  • 63.6 percent children enrolled in government school
  • 24.8 percent children enrolled in private school
  • 0.5 percent children enrolled in Madrasas and EGS.
  1. A significant shift from enrollment in private schools to government schools:
    • Compared to 2018, more than 60 percent of children are enrolled in government schools.
  2. Scenario of Girls Enrolment in Schools in 2020:
    • Age Group 7-10: 4.1 percent of girls are not currently enrolled in any type of school.
    • Age Group 11-14: 3.9 percent of girls are out of school.
    • Age group 15-16: 11.1 percent of girls are out of school.
    • The percentage of girls’ enrolment in government schools has risen from 70 percent in 2018 to 73 percent in 2020.
    • The percentage of girls’ enrolment in private schools has decreased by 3 percent from 30 percent in 2018 to 27 percent in 2020.
  3. Scenario of Boys Enrolment in Schools in 2020:
    • Age Group 7-10 – 4.7 percent of boys are not currently enrolled in any type of schools.
    • Age Group 11-14 – 3.9 percent of boys are out of school.
    • Age group 15-16 – 8.8 percent of boys are out of school.
    • The highest spike in ‘out of school’ percentage is seen in the boys of age group 6-10. The percentage of boys not currently enrolled has increased from 1.8 percent in 2018 to 5.3 percent in 2020.
  4. Parents’ educational qualifications:
    • 53.1 percent of mothers and 70.8 percent of fathers have completed more than 5 years of schooling.
    • 31.3 percent of mothers and 16.6 percent of fathers had no schooling.
  5. Accessibility to textbooks: Children in government schools have higher access to textbooks than children from private schools.
    • 84.1 percent of currently enrolled students in government schools have textbooks while 72.2 percent of students have textbooks in private schools.
  6. Children having smartphones at home – Enormous increase in the proportion of children having smartphones
    • The percentage of children enrolled in government schools and having smartphones has increased 29.6 percent in 2018 to 56.4 percent in 2020.
    • Similarly, the percentage of children enrolled in private schools and having smartphones too has increased from 49.9 percent in 2018 to 74.2 percent.
  7. Learning support for children at home
    • Younger children (Std I-II) get maximum learning support at home. 81.5 percent of children studying in class 1 and 11 receive help from family members.
  8. Access to learning materials at home – 83.9 percent of enrolled children received learning materials through WhatsApp.
    • One-third of all enrolled children get some form of learning materials during the reference week.

Also, read a brief of the Big Picture debate of RSTV on the Education Agenda from the linked article.

Suggestions in Context with ASER Report

  • Hybrid Learning: As children do a variety of different activities at home, effective ways of hybrid learning need to be developed which combine traditional teaching-learning with newer ways of “reaching-learning”.
  • Fluid Situation: When schools reopen, it will be important to continue to monitor who goes back to school as well as to understand whether there is a learning loss as compared to previous years.
  • Assessment of Digital Modes and Content: In order to improve digital content and delivery for the future, an in-depth assessment of what works, how well it works, who it reaches, and who it excludes is needed. Read about Digital Education in India on the linked page.
  • Building on and Strengthening Family Support: Parents’ increasing levels of education can be integrated into planning for learning improvement, as advocated by National Education Policy, 2020. Reaching parents at the right level is essential to understand how they can help their children and older siblings also play an important role.
  • Liasoning the Digital Divide: Children from families who had low education and also did not have resources like smartphones had less access to learning opportunities. However, even among such households, there is evidence of effort with family members trying to help and schools trying to reach them. These children will need even more help than others when schools reopen.

Get UPSC Mains GS 1 and GS 2 Strategy from links given below:

  1. UPSC Mains GS 1 Strategy, Syllabus and Structure
  2. UPSC Mains GS 2 Strategy, Syllabus and Structure

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Frequently Asked Questions on ASER Report

Q 1. What is ASER?

Ans. ASER stands for Annual Status of Education Report. This is an annual survey that aims to provide reliable annual estimates of children’s schooling status and basic learning levels for each state and rural district in India.

Q 2. When was the first Annual Status of Education Report Survey conducted?

Ans. ASER has been conducted every year since 2005 in almost all rural districts of India. It is the largest citizen-led survey in the country.

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